Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Million Dollar Baby

 From a film I liked but found flawed to one that is just outright perfection. I really knew nothing about Million dollar Bay except that Hillary Swank had won her second Oscar for this outing. So I settled in with just the basic knowledge that Clint is great!!
 Well he blew me out of my chair, and then the room with this one. At the end I was stunned to say the least, and it lasted well after I went to bed. I kept tossing and turning thinking of what I had just seen. I'm sure you all know what I mean. There are just some films that grab you in some way and just never let you go....ever. Million Dollar Baby is one such film for me. For as long as I live I'll think this is one of the very, very best films ever made. 
 It is the type of film you finish watching and want to stand on your roof yelling to the rest of the world just how good it was. Well I did anyway!! Enough of the praise as I'm sure you get the idea. I like this film, and immensely.
 It is interesting to have reviewed Josey Wales only days ago to reviewing one of Eastwood's more recent efforts. Josey Wales is good but in Baby you can see how far his talent has progressed. Furthermore after my review of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil it is fair to say Baby is by far the superior film, in every respect.
 I can't think where to begin with Baby. Everything about it is just brililant. Eastwood's craftmanship is stamped everywhere and there isn't a flaw to be seen. He is just such a perfectionist and I absolutely love his film making. The acting is some of the best you could ever hope to see. Eastwood is usual gruff self, but I like how his character breaks down towards the end, he even comes the closet I think anyone will ever come to seeing him cry on screen! This is emotional terrain that Eastwod has never trodden before and he plays it well. 
 Eastwood has played this role many times and no-one does it like him. He is superb, and Freeman is just as good. I initially had concerns about Freeman narrating as it smacked of his role in The Shankshaw Redemption. But my fears were allayed as I never felt or saw a similarity throughout. This film pulls you into it, and it alone. While these two fine old campaigners were at their very best it really is Hillary Swank's show, and she is just magnificent.
 Swank now has two Oscars and must surely be ranked as one of the finest actresses ever. The brilliant ( and down right beautiful ) Vivian Leigh won two so how can Swank not be rated as good? Many fine actresses have never won an Oscar let alone two, so I believe this puts Swank's achivements in context. She is outstanding. ( At this stage I haven't seen her recent film Conviction, but there is already talk of her being nominated for a third Oscar. If so she is only one behind the legendary Katharine Hepburn. Personally I think politics will enter the equation and the judges will not violate Hepburn's legend by awarding anymore to Swank. A situation to keep our eyes on ).
 It is somewhat funny to be reviewing this film after having seen The fighter recently. It is hard not to compare the two. I think overall Baby is the better film. The Fighter is more a bio-pic and straight boxing film . Baby is about character more than boxing. But the boxing scenes in Baby aren't bad. Swank must have put a huge amount of effort into geting fit for the role. Watch her skipping rope in her tight blue track suit pants, my god the sight is enough to make a grown man cry!! What a superbly toned figure!
 Her fight scenes are good. The camera angles are just right, and the neck snapping and blood convincing. Again one can only marvel at the amount of work Swank put into make herself believable as a boxer. This just shows the professionlism of her as an actress and also Eastwood's for casting her, and then getting the best out of her. It is convincing and so much the better film for it.
 But it is not all boxing. Of course Swank's character is hospitalised after a king hit, and here Swank steps up to another level. She looks ill, and we can empathise with her not wanting to live that way. The film has copped some critism for its end, but I like it. Not all stories have a happy ending, and this one is no exception.
 I like this film more because it didn't go down the sentimental feel good route. It delved into something deeper. Eastwood plays a man who is dealing with emotional gain and then loss extremely well. You can see the inner turmoil of not wanting to help Swank die and yet realising by not he is slowly killing her anyway. Great stuff and superb acting by both Swank and Eastwood. 
 This is one film I can praise to the cows come home, so somewhere I have to stop. I really like this film and believe it will go down as one of the best films ever made. Hillary Swank puts in one of the all time great female film performances ever, and thoroughly deserved her second Oscar. It is Swank's show and she is incredibly well suppoted by those two old war horses Eastwood and Freeman who at no stage try to outshine her. It isn't about them, it is about Swank's character. Eastwood's film making skills are laid bare here for all to see. Everything is just perfect, and I yet again marvel at his perfectionism and craftmanship. He is an extraordinary film maker.
 Watch and quite literally be blown away by Swank. This is as good a film as you can ever hope to see. By the end you'll be stunned and want to stand on your roof yelling  to everbody to see this film just like I did!!!

3 comments:

  1. This one's a masterpiece and a good example of a film that works on every level. heartbreaking and riveting but not without some hope.

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  2. BTW I think you missed it in a previous comment, but you won last week's contest at Criminal movies. Pick out a movie and email me your mailing address (criminalmovies@yahoo.com) and I'll send it to you.
    http://criminalmovies.blogspot.com/2011/02/criminal-movies-free-movies-contest.html

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  3. You are so right, masterpiece is the exact word. Like I have stated I was stunned by the end...I really felt lost for words. Just a truely, truely great film.
    I'll wait awhile and hire it again. Don't usually watch films twice unless they are truely exceptional...and this one is.

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